Beer and Japan's Drinking Culture *RERUN
When drinkers raise their glasses for a toast, it's often full of beer. Whether we are exhausted or delighted, this amber-colored liquid helps us wind down and lighten the mood. Beer was first imported into Japan towards the end of Japan's samurai era. Recently, microbreweries in Japan are enjoying increasing popularity, doubling over the past five years to number more than 500. The history and culture of each region is poured into each new local craft beer. Tonight, why not raise your glass!

A Toast to Japan's Great Northern Land

Japan's northernmost island, Hokkaido Prefecture is known for the bounty of its crops. One dazzling golden crop stands out from the rest. Two-row barley is an essential ingredient in the beer-making process. As Japan's samurai era came to an end, and the country began to modernize, the government established the Hokkaido Development Commission, an organization for promoting settlement. Settlers began to cultivate barley and hops, and in 1876, the commission established its first brewery. Before long brewing beer grew into one of the region's leading industries.

Pouring Beer down the Ages

As Japan's beer culture grew, so did Japan's beer halls. The first beer hall in Japan opened in Osaka Prefecture back in 1897, and the one in Tokyo followed two years later. The oldest surviving beer hall in Japan is in Tokyo's Ginza, which has been in business for 87 years. Throughout its history, the beer hall has remained proud of its beer pouring technique. The beer is served in well-chilled glasses and poured at great speed. The head should be around 30% of the volume.

A New Industry in Kyoto

In Yosano Town in northern Kyoto Prefecture, there are fields full of hops, an indispensable ingredient for producing beer. Local farmers decided that cultivating hops could help promote the local economy. The yellow powder in each flower contains a substance called lupulin, which has a major influence on the bitterness and flavor of the beer. A restaurant in Kyoto specializing in serving craft beer produces beer with just-harvested Yosano hops at their own on-site brewery.